Viral Visionaries

When it comes to driving downloads, is it better to recruit a few big influencers or a larger amount of micro-influencers?

When it comes to driving downloads, is it better to recruit a few big influencers or a larger amount of micro-influencers?

Is influencer marketing all about who's got the most followers? When it comes to creating a campaign - is it better to work with the huge influencers with millions of subscribers, or a handful of smaller creators with different demographics? 

We put the question of micro vs. mighty to our influencer marketing hivemind. We asked them whether it's more productive to hire the big dogs or the underdogs, and which influencers are more valuable when it comes to driving downloads. The responses may surprise you!

If you'd like to get involved with our Viral Visionaries panel - email the editor at [email protected].

Phil Ranta Head of Creators Mobcrush

Every campaign is different, but generally the goal is to find a creator that will do the best job performing the message to the most attentive and specific audience as possible. That can be done with stars, micro-influencers, or a mix of both.

There are plusses and minuses on both sides. You have to validate that the fandom of your selected creator is real and current for both. Many stars have follower counts that belie their actual fame but if you find the right one, they can move massive audience at a level micro-influencers can't.

Recruiting a large number of micro-influencers mitigates risk on reach, but involves more research, tracking, and all-around hassle. I have found that micro-influencers often overdeliver on the requirements for a campaign as they're hungrier for brand dollars and eager to impress.

You can also get more audience specificity with a micro-influencer. A huge star may have a great DIY channel, but only a micro-influencer can have a vegan quilting channel focused on styles from the Pacific Northwest.

David Kim Managing Director nevaly

The number of fans an influencer has overall is not equal to a number of followers or subscribers.
Pascal Clarysse
The answer to big vs. micro influencers shouldn't be binary. Rather, companies ought to aim for the right mix of reach, audience, brand fit, and installs in relation to their budget. This means evaluating influencers individually and as a part of an overall campaign.

On a global level, we recently looked at several thousands of channels from the campaigns we did and found disparate advantages to big vs. micro influencers. Big influencers are more cost efficient on a CPM basis and have higher engagement rates.

Micro influencers have a stronger view to subscriber ratio and CTR on affiliate links. Due to the administrative burden of influencer campaigns in general, companies ought to think hard about the partners they choose because there will be trade-offs with regard to what each can offer.

Pascal Clarysse CMO-at-large Eden Games

Pascal Clarysse started looking for so-called Growth Hacks a good decade before the buzzword was coined.

Clarysse used to be the marketing driving force at, where he was in charge of relentlessly spotting new trends, waves and magic holes. In recent years, he's served as a marketing consultant for various indie studios, participating in launching mobile games and the occasional Kickstarter campaign.

Nailed it, David Kim! I stand by every word. Especially "big influencers are more cost efficient" - yes, their high up front fees scare most away, but when you actually give it a try, you find out they are more affordable than the small ones, opposite to the common assumption. 

There is a number that no-one tracks and that gets way higher with the stars: how many fans do they have? That's not the same thing at all as a follower/subscriber.

Kat Peterson Reelstyle

I think with all campaigns it's important to consider the brand, the influencers you are recruiting etc. (context matters!) In my experience (again depending on the context) if you have the budget a blended approach can best serve you.

With your big influencers you will generally see a strong lift in social awareness, clicks and often downloads, but your per cent will be lower. Depending on the quality of your micro influencers you could see a more targeted lift in downloads. Again, I think the blend is your best bet.

Where brands or media buyers can run into trouble is when they look at analytics in isolation, while the math generally doesn't lie, if the context is lost so will your downloads.

Jon Howard Head of PR/Influencer Relations Flaregames

It’s important to be attuned to your product’s strengths and limitations and tailor your influencer campaign accordingly.
Jon Howard
Micro, macro, mega... in my opinion it’s boils down to which creator channels you believe – through data, audience research in beta, your own market understanding – will bring in engaged players for each specific product. I can re-count binary statements I’ve made in the last years like: “well, we’ve done x, y, z to achieve scale/downloads for that game launch campaign, so that cookie-cutter approach could work this time (for a different game) too”.

If you want engaged users (doesn’t everybody!) it pays to be honest with the product you have and target the exact communities that you know will drive such players. It’s cool bringing in a couple million users with a finely balanced campaign that operates at scale. But what’s even better is when those users are hyper-engaged and spend weeks/months/years in the game. As such it’s important to be attuned to your product’s strengths and limitations and tailor your influencer campaign accordingly, regardless of who’s big and who’s small.

Macy Mills Head of Business Development GameInfluencer

In general, we see large vs small influencers as one of the last questions we consider. Our process works something like this:

First, we start with basic brand needs: What is the target demographic? What countries are we focusing on? What is the ideal consumer interested in? We take that information into account and come up with the best genre to reach that target.

For example, family lifestyle vloggers to reach a female over 35 demographic. From there, we would look into specific metrics of the channels: average view counts, average engagement, past campaign performance (CTR, CPI, etc). All those metrics are all more important than the actual size of the influencers. It´s more about finding the perfect fit influencers, than what size they are.

In an ideal world, a small group of superstars as "brand ambassadors" with more smaller guys around them is a great approach to get the perfect mix of influencer marketing. But publishers do need to keep in mind that these superstars do come with the price tag - a worthy one!

Sarah Knowles Social lead Substance Global

It’s true that size doesn’t really matter… that much. Micro or mega, we are looking more at the passion and interest. An influencer may have over a million subscribers but no conversion or they may only have a thousand fans but every one of them is deeply engaged.

Within our industry we try to develop relationships with passionate micro and medium influencers and to grow with their subscriber base. We do this through both networking and social campaign tools. In our experience micro-influencer campaigns work better on scale where there is an already existing interest group and hashtag, fashion or dogs for example. Where we are wanting more niche content we tend to align with medium and mega influencers to get the largest impact.

Stefano Petrullo Founder Renaissance PR

As everyone said, small vs large is not necessary binary. We are currently doing a bit of research in non-gaming influencers to cover a game that covers a theme that the product we work with explores. (eg. a professional driver for a racing game, a scientist that talks about space exploration for a space sim etc).

What we are discovering more and more in our experience is that sometimes we got a lot more of interest from those influencers than the traditional gaming ones. Our strategy in exploring this is based on the fact that once you have a theme very well defined you can tackle people that like that particular theme through relationship/involvement them in the game development/commentary.

Those influencers activate their audience which most of the time have a gaming device in their house which leads to ramp brand awareness.

Talking about scale of those non-gaming influencers, it really depends on the topic however I saw huge influencers not moving a needle of sales and small one getting games really popular and vice versa. I believe it's more like in the hands of us, as PR and marketers, to identify what is our objective first and then how to achieve with a combination of subscribers, interaction, views etc. The beauty of this is we have so much data to look at, the danger is how we read them to inform our strategies.

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Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.